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Full text of "On the Coördination of the Various Methods of Expressing Thought as Applied to the System of Public School Instruction"

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Haupt.] "48 [Nov. 21 , 

On the Coordination of the Various Methods of Expressing Thought as 
Applied to the System of Public School Instruction. By Lewis M. Haupt, 
C. E., Prof, of Civil Engineering, University of Pennsylvania. 

{Read before the American Philosophical Society, November 21, 1879.) 

Language, in its most general signification, is any medium by which 
thoughts or ideas may he conveyed from one person to another, and the 
avenues through which it affects the human intelligence are the senses. 

In transmitting an idea, the senses maybe called into action either singly 
or in combination. Thus speaking involves the sense of hearing, for a 
person born deaf must of necessity be dumb also. We may therefore re- 
gard the vocal organs and the ear as complementary functions for the trans- 
mission and reception of audible intelligence. These may be supplemented 
or entirely supplanted in their absence by the hand and eye, also comple- 
mentary. In both of these cases the vocal organs and hand are the media 
of, while the ear and eye are the guides to, the proper form of expression. 

From this it follows that there may be two distinct forms of language, 
namely, Oral, or that proceeding from the mouth, as in speaking, and 
Graphical, or that produced by the hand, as in writing, drawing, and 
printing. Oral language appeals to the ear of the recipient, Graphical, to 
the eye, for the correct interpretation of the idea intended to be expressed. 
If the same meaning be given to a combination of words, by the recipient, 
as was intended by the originator of an idea, then the result will be an 
identity of thought and a mutual understanding resulting in harmony. 
But as words have many meanings, the same words may produce very 
different impressions upon different minds even under similar circumstances, 
hence, to avoid misunderstanding, with its attendant confusion or discord, 
it is desirable to employ, if possible, a less ambiguous form of language. 

A single instance will serve to illustrate this proposition. 

Let the name of a substance, as iron, be mentioned. An audience com- 
posed of physicists, chemists, engineers, artisans, artists and literati imme- 
diately begin to think of some of its characteristic properties. 

While the man of letters may regard it as a rigid, incombustible sub- 
stance, the chemist considers it flexible and burns it with great brilliancy; 
while the prisoner may look upon it as an obstruction, the electrician makes 
it a channel of communication. The agriculturalist may use it as an im- 
plement of peace, whilst the soldier will make it an instrument of war. 
With the civil or mechanical engineer it is an important material of con- 
struction, whilst with the military engineer it is an engine of destruction. 

"The meaning of such a word is like the rainbow: everybody sees a 
different one, yet all maintain it to be the same." 

It is thus with many words in our vocabulary, and hence arise sectarian- 
isms, difficulties, violations of contracts and tedious litigation to determine 
the sense of some particular form of expression. 

It is not necessary to dilate further upon the ambiguities of language, 
nor of the many serious and sometimes comical mistakes resulting from 



J879.J 349 [Hanpt. 

them, but a few suggestions may not be out of place as to the necessity for 
more extended instruction in that branch of it which relates to the expres- 
sion of ideas by graphical representations and especially by drawings. 

It is a matter of primary importance to the progress of civilization that 
every avenue for the interchange of thought should be unobstructed, that 
there may be an unification of purpose and action ; and secondarily, that the 
media used to convey such thought should be unambiguous and of general 
application. Now, since all ideas must have for their subject matter things 
physical or metaphysical, it follows that there may be a different form of 
language used in giving expression to each. As most physical concep- 
tions treat of tangible objects, having form, and as such form or line of 
apparent contour is the first characteristic observed by the eye, and is 
more or less familiar to all persons living within the habitat or range of 
the object, it is natural that this form, more or less conventionalized or 
symbolized, should have been used to represent the object in an unmis- 
takable language. 

In developing the intellectual faculties of mankind,. beginning with the 
child, there is first the inception of an idea, derived from some form and 
an associated sound, expressing its name ; this is followed by the repetition 
of the sound by the child, giving rise to vocal language which is developed 
in later years in the public school system of instruction by spelling and 
reading. Thus the first, or oral, division of language is cultivated, while 
the second, and more extensive in its range and application, the graphical, 
does not receive the attention which its importance deserves. 

It is true that writing has long held an important place in our popular 
educational systems, and of late years drawing has also been introduced 
systematically, but as yet only so far as to cultivate the eye and hand in 
sketching outlines and shading, that is, in making pictures and elementary 
designs either for decorations or for the practice which such operations 
afford in estimating magnitude, distance and direction. 

That important division of drawing which is the basis of the correct 
interpretation of all forms and magnitudes and is of the greatest practical 
importance to all artisans and many artists and professional men, is as yet 
entirely ignored. 

I refer to a knowledge of elementary projections, without which a work- 
ing drawing can neither be made nor understood, and the artisan destitute 
of it is obliged to acquire the practical knowledge for the successful applica- 
tion of his handicraft by long years of apprenticeship while he learns the 
uses of the various templates that may be placed in his hands by a master. 

A moment's consideration will convince an observer that there are two 
methods of representing objects, viz. : 1st, as they appear to exist, consti- 
tuting perspective; and 2d, as they do actually exist, as in projections, in 
which, relative position, form and magnitude are given. The perspective 
view is of little practical importance to the workman, as he is unable to 
obtain from it the data necessary to reproduoe the object. 

No two persons in an audience can see the same object from the same 

PBOC. AMEIl. PHILOS. SOC. XVIII. 104. 2s. PRINTED DEC. 12, 1879. 



Haupt.] ''50 [Nov. 21, 

point of view, and hence unless it be symmetrical with reference to a point 
in space, as a sphere, the line of apparent contour will be different to each. 
The magnitude will also appear larger or smaller according to the distance 
of the observer from the object. Thus, if a circular disk be held up before 
an assembly it will appear circular only to that person at the end of its 
axis, while to those in the plane of the disk it will appear to be a straight 
line, and to all others the ellipses of which the line and circle are the limits, 
thus verifying the aphorism of the poet Longfellow, when he says, 
" And things are not what they seem." 

With projections, however, the case is different, as, if understood at all, 
they can only convey one impression to the reader. But it must be con- 
fessed that they are no more intelligible without a knowledge of the prin- 
ciples upon which they were constructed than is a printed work to one 
ignorant of letters. 

The principles of projections are, however, as simple as those of element- 
ary geometry, upon which they are based, and can be readily compre- 
hended by the pupils in our public schools. And a knowledge of these 
principles would enable many of them to work much more intelligently in 
the various trades in which they may thereafter become apprentices. 

The application which may be made of such information is very ex- 
tended. As a disciplinary study it is one of the first order, developing the 
conceptive faculties and enabling one to grasp an idea readily. It has its 
application in nearly all manufactured articles and in all constructions and 
designs, in wood, iron, stone, clay, or other materials. It is used con- 
stantly by the engineer, architect, builder, pattern-maker, iron or sheet 
metal worker, stair-builder, stone-cutter, designer, and a host of others. 
It is the basis of all perspective drawings which are generally made by rule 
and without reason, and is essential to a correct interpretation of all sug- 
gestions relating to constructions of any kind. It is used to explain and 
reinforce verbal language, and should be so used whenever possible. 

One of the most important applications of graphical language must not 
be overlooked. To the statistician as well as merchant it is valuable as 
furnishing at a glance information which if expressed in a mass of figures 
would be unintelligible. It cannot be surpassed as a method of exhibiting 
rapidly the distribution of population, of products, of poverty or wealth, of 
crime or morality, of vital, or in fact any statistics which may be expressed 
numerically. To the physicist it is also particularly useful in investiga- 
tions into the properties of molecular or mass physics, and enables him to 
discover almost immediately the laws governing the motions of matter. 

Fluctuations of prices, in the market values of daily commodities, may 
be more intelligently expressed by this means than any other and can be 
compared at a glance. In short, the number of intelligent and eminently 
practical applications that may be made of projections is almost limitless. 

Its introduction would supplant a certain amount of mnemonical by 
rational and manual development, and would thus be a relief to a system 
already overtaxed with memorizing. 



1879.1 



351 



Another means of disseminating thought, as well as of developing the 
mental and manual faculties simultaneously, would be the introduction of 
type-setting in the public school as a weekly exercise, but as it is not the 
purpose of this article to discuss here the means and methods of industrial 
education, any further remarks on this head will be out of order. 

It is merely intended to call attention to the fact that there is need of a 
more complete development of all the faculties used to convey or receive 
impressions and to coordinate them into a closer and more efficient system 
of instruction as a basis for the more intelligent expression of thought. 



Stated Meeting, June 20, 1879. 

Present, 5 members. 

Vice-President, Mr. Fraley, in the Chair. 

A photograph of Mr. J. F. Mansfield, was received for in- 
sertion in the album.- 

Letters of acknowledgment were received from the Natural 
History Societies at Wiirttemberg, April 1 (101, 102); Frei- 
burg, Feb. 2 (101); the Societies at Harlem, Aug., 1877 (97, 
98, 99); Lyons, Aug. 1,1878 (I to XV); Edinburgh, Oct. 31, 
1878 (100, Cat. Ill); the Royal Academy, at Amsterdam, Oct. 
22, 1877 (100, Cat. Ill); New Hampshire Historical Society, 
June 16 (103) ; the Essex Institute (103) ; the U. S. Military 
Academy, at West Point (103) ; the New York Historical 
Society (103); the American Ethnological Society (103), and 
Astor Library (103); the Numismatic and Antiquarian So- 
ciety (103), and Historical Society at Philadelphia (103) ; 
the "Wisconsin Historical Society (103) ; and various mem- 
bers (103). 

Letters of envoy were received from the Royal Academy, 
at Amsterdam, Feb. 7, 1879 ; Imperial Academy, at Vienna; 
Royal Academy, at Munich, April 10, 1879; Holland So- 
ciety, Harlem, Dec, 1877; Government Surveyors, Victoria, 
Feb. 12; Greenwich Observatory, June 20; Meteorological 
Office ; and Mrs. Sarah S. Pickering, May 19, 1879. 

Donations for the Library were received from the Acade- 
mies at Amsterdam, Bruxelles, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and